Jo was a real go getter. She never believed in boundaries holding her back or in doing anything half-heartedly. Given any opportunity, Jo embraced it and usually excelled. This ranged from her professional career as a lawyer with Pinsent Masons and then Harris Hagan, to her extensive travelling, her sporting achievements and her commitment to her friends.
Jo firmly believed life was for enjoyment and living. She packed her days with rowing at Poplar rowing club and netball with the O.P.A and Academy clubs in the national league championships. She was a skier, a diver, a cyclist and a half marathon runner (though she preferred a 10km!). She was also often to be found watching rugby at Twickenham and cricket at Lords. She adored dancing – the Strictly Come Dancing season could never come soon enough for her. When she had a private lesson with one of the SCD professionals, she made that into so much more by adding weekly ballroom dance lessons into her schedule.
Always busy, Jo also took great pleasure in holidays that were an adventure – Europe, the Far East, Australia, South Africa and many other individual trips. Jo was often to be found with a new copy of Lonely Planet for the next trip she wanted to plan.
Often these trips were with her friends. Her varied activities meant she was friends to many different people and she was incredibly loyal and considerate to all of them. She was always someone you could turn to with a problem or a worry. Despite being so busy she would take the time to help you, come up with a solution and make everything seem better with a glass of wine, a home cooked meal and probably some chocolate for good measure.
Her approach to her friends and sport in general sums up much of what the Joanna Brown Trust stands for – helping others achieve their sporting potential. Jo always had the next challenge in mind, always pushed herself outside of her comfort zone and had huge admiration for anyone who was a champion (or striving to be one) in their chosen sporting field.
Jo was combining her love of sport with travel in 2008 when she set off to China, Mongolia and Russia to see the Beijing Olympics and then travel home on the Trans-Siberian rail trek. Jo took in as much of the sporting action as she could, culminating in seeing the GB Men’s IV collect their gold medals for rowing. She had been vociferously supporting them on their journey and this was probably the highlight of her trip.
On her return through Siberia, Jo set out on a guided 20km trek along the banks of Lake Baikal. Tragically, she lost her footing at one point and slipped down the rock face, suffering fatal injuries. She died in hospital in Listvyanka a short time later.
Jo’s friends and family miss her, along with her energy and zeal for life, enormously. But we know her spirit and all she stood for lives on. The Joanna Brown Trust encourages passion and potential in sport. Two things Jo believed in and strove for herself – in sport and in every aspect of life.